4

My question is about cutting 2x6 boards in half with a circular saw ("Skil"-saw). Now, I've looked around, and there are many sites describing how to cut off a small piece from a larger piece, the latter you want to keep. Most of them point out that you want to clamp the longer piece to a table or a sawhorse and let the small piece drop, to avoid the piece buckling down on the saw as the cut progresses, causing it to catch and kick back.

Fair enough.

However, I would like to cut a rather long piece (4.5m, or about 15') in half right in the middle, and keep both ends. I haven't seen anything that addresses this type of situation. I can't imagine I'll be able to keep half of that long piece floating in mid air, probably ripping the wood as the cut advances and less material is left between the two parts. On the other hand, if I hold it with a support, how do I avoid the weight of the saw from causing the cut to buckle in?

  • 1
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Good question; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. – Daniel Griscom Oct 11 at 11:47
  • 6
    Note that "ripping" has a specific meaning to a carpenter: to cut parallel to the long dimension. I believe that you want to cut your 15' piece into two 7.5' pieces. This would be a crosscut. – Mattman944 Oct 11 at 14:01
  • 2
    Could you not simply have a second person hold the other end up? – Darrel Hoffman Oct 11 at 18:14
  • 1
    Mattman, that was edited in. Anyways, I think the person's meaning was ripping that is caused by force applied by the two parts falling apart and only being held by a triangular sliver of wood at the end of the cut. – Yishai E Oct 11 at 18:40
  • You're trying to rip a notch, so table saw's out. IF I had to do this alone, it'd be on top of a sacrificial 2x12. – Mazura Oct 12 at 4:31
6

My normal way to deal with this is to put 3 scraps of 2x4 on the floor. One is on the longer board near the cut point. One is at the end of the longer board, or at least halfway. The third is not quit halfway down the short end. This gives you 1.5" clearance.

When you make the cut, the short piece is trying to pivot upward at the saw, but the sole plate keeps it down. If you support it at the end, it will try to drop instead, and the back end of the cut will twist. No big deal with dimesion lumber, but can be a problem with 4x8 sheet goods.

So example: You are cutting a 16 foot board at 11 feet. Make your mark. One 2x4 goes on the 11 foot side of the mark. No terrible accuracy required. Leave an inch or so of clearance.

One 2x4 goes anywhere between 2 and 6 feet from the far end of the 11 foot section.

On 2x4 goes about 2 feet from the cut on the 5 foot section.

You make your cut with the bulk of the saw on the 11 foot section.

If you cut a board to length with too heavy and unsupported end, you will usually get a triangular splinter coming off the supported board as you finish the cut. For structural purposes this doesn't matter. If you are making something that shows, you will care.

A chop saw often is on a support with entendible supports. The supports don't have to be at the ends.

  • 1
    This is what I was looking for. Thank you for the answer. I think the most informative bit was that the sole of the saw holds the dropping part from pivoting up. Somehow I missed this from the entire mechanics of the situation. Your solution requires very little extra hardware and will certainly nail it for me. – Yishai E Oct 11 at 18:47
  • 2
    I use 4 stickers ( scrap wood ) of the same thickness, perpendicular to the board being cut. Two for one side of the cut and two for the other. Mark the line to be cut and put one sticker on each side of the line, put the other two at each end of the piece. This results in each piece sitting on its own supports so that when you finish the cut each piece will not teeter or move. – Alaska Man Oct 11 at 19:44
4

Have extra supports either side of the saw, with the one not clamped to the machine slightly lower to allow it to drop a small amount - again to stop it binding.

  • Thanks. If the second (non clamped) support is lower, the floating half will tend towards it, and with 2.25m of 2x6 pulling it down, I imagine it will reach it at some point during the cut. I'm a bit worried it will do that by ripping the material connecting the two parts. Or do you mean two supports on each end? – Yishai E Oct 11 at 12:09
  • A small drop, like 1cm. The board will not tear with the little of a drop. – isherwood Oct 11 at 14:11
4

There are two approaches I'd recommend.

  1. Use three or four support points. If you have four saw horses, and cut in the center space, both cut boards are supported. There's no issue. Even three support points is adequate since you can have one hand on one end of one cut board.

  2. Catch the cut board with your "off" hand. I'm right-handed, so I'd have the full board extending off of two saw horses to my left (horses to the right). Support the board with your left hand. With your right hand, use a two-finger grip on the saw (middle finger on the trigger, index finger up front, for extra leverage). Make your cut and keep the cutoff board in position with your left hand. You can also use your hip or thigh to add another support point. For a 4.5m board you can effectively support the cutoff half at mid-point, so balance isn't really a problem.

  • 1
    I'm still a bit skittish with saw in one hand. I'd rather have both hands on it until I gather enough experience. I voted the answer up because it's probably a good solution for others. – Yishai E Oct 11 at 18:43
  • 1
    If you keep both hands on the saw you'll also keep all fingers on your hands. – Jasen Oct 11 at 23:22
2

Put the 2x6's on a flat surface, like the garage floor or deck or another long board, and set the depth of the saw just enough to go through the wood but no further. You can weight down the ends if you need to. Make the cut... the wood will not bind the blade and you'll get a straight, clean cut, and you won't have to be lifting 15' 2x6's. This works! Good luck.

  • Thanks for your answer. The saw I'm using doesn't have a very exact way to set the depth. I'm kind of scared I'll hit the floor at some point (e.g. when the cut is done and the two parts let tension loose). I imagine I could do this on a scrap piece of board, but that might be a bit of a long scrap... – Yishai E Oct 11 at 12:12
  • @ Yishai E You can set the depth a little less than the thickness and finish it off with a regular saw. – JACK Oct 11 at 12:57
  • 2
    Hey I think you can just put another piece (of something) underneath and it’ll just cut a groove in the piece underneath. You’ll have to be careful about the lower piece shifting and you should adjust the blade as much as possible. – Steve Oct 11 at 12:58
  • 1
    Steve is right and should write an answer. Set long board on top of a few pieces of scrap wood. Space them so that the two halves will be fully supported after the cut is made – Kris Oct 11 at 13:44
0

Use a table saw if possible. Otherwise:

The basic idea is to keep the board either flat or in some tension with the ends lower than the center.

Assuming a 15' 2x6

With 2 saw horses, you can put them 3 feet from either side of the cut. When you cut the board, the two sides will slowly rotate upwards, but if you get the saw horses reasonably close to the center of mass of each remaining side, you'll be fine.

With a bench and a saw horse, clamp one side to the bench. Put the saw horse slightly closer to the center, and proceed as above.

When cutting it on the floor, use small scrap pieces under the center (easiest), or 2 small scrap pieces in the same spots that the saw horses would have been.

With multiple saw horses, the idea is put a small bow it, clamp to the saw horses. This keeps it from falling at the end.

0

A few tips I have on this

  1. Measure, mark, and then snap a chalk line. For long rips like this you really really need a guide line or you'll think you were drunk in cutting. Even still, you may have some wobble. If you must have a straight edge, use a table saw
  2. Have another person help. There's some ways to make this work solo, but you might break something (the board or a body part) without an extra set of hands. if this were a shorter rip, I'd say let the weight of the saw hold the board in place
  3. Use spare wood to prop the board up. Support in multiple places or you may get some sagging (or possibly binding) in the middle.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.